Yahtzee Free For All
by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Yahtzee Free For All
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
2-6 (3+ is recommended)
Yahtzee Free For All is a huge leap forwards from the basic Yahtzee game. It’s fun and frantic, with lots going on, which will keep you hooked from the first throw.
The game and gameplay
The first thing you’ll notice about Free For All is the ingenious packaging. A hexagon-shaped box unfolds to form the play area. When you’re done, it folds back and swallows all the components very neatly. Packaging design degrees are not entirely a waste of time, then!
Take the basic concept of Yahtzee. Now remove the need for score pads. These are replaced by scoring cards and poker-like plastic chips.
Three card markers dominate the middle of the board. Each has a chip marker below it. Shuffle the Yahtzee Free For All cards and turn one face up on each of the card markers. Every player gets the usual five dice.
Whoever goes first is faced with the challenge of rolling a Yahtzee hand that matches one of the three upturned cards. Some are easier than others: the easiest can be any roll containing a six, for example, while the hardest are the Yahtzee cards (you need five of a kind to snaffle one of those babies).
Assuming you manage to match one of the three cards, you take it from the middle, place your final dice total in the slot provided and leave the card face up next to the dice. Replace the Yahtzee Free For All card from the top of the deck and now play moves clockwise.
Here’s where it begins to get more interesting. The next player now must match one of the three cards in the centre OR your ‘claimed’ card. They can only steal your card if they better your total (which is why you must leave the dice in your tray until your next turn with the total visible).
Here’s how it works. If you won your card with a Full House (three fours and two fives), the person who steals it from you would have to throw three fours and two sixes or better to take your card.
If a player fails to match any of the centre cards or steal any other player’s card, then they take a poker chip and place it in front of any of the three centre cards they choose. Subsequent players who win that centre card keep the chips in front of it for the duration of the game, regardless of whether they keep their card or not.
Should play move all the way around the table, on a player’s next turn they retain any card they have in front of them and store it for the final reckoning.
The winner is the person with the most total points; the sum of the points on all of their claimed cards and a point for each chip held.
Pros and cons
Yahtzee has always been an addictive game, way more perhaps than it deserves to be for such a simple concept. It always had the disadvantage of being a “solo” game, where you compete among yourselves to see who could score the highest.
Yahtzee Free For All turns that disadvantage on its head by making the game all about social interaction. Will your better half sulk all night if you steal his Four of a Kind card? Will you bank an easy card or gamble in the hope of stealing the leader’s current card?
There is a lot to remember at first, which means you need one “pot watcher” to remind everybody of what they are supposed to do next.
The game plays much better with three or more than heads up, so look elsewhere if you’re only going to play as a couple: there are better two-player options out there.
That said, it’s an excellent family game that people of all ages will enjoy.
Yahtzee Free For All is an action-packed family game. The roll of dice, the cries of anguish and demands for vengeance will last long into the night. Even if dice aren’t usually your thing, give this one a try.